Luke Temple: A Hand Through the Cellar Door (Secretly Canadian) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Luke Temple

A Hand Through the Cellar Door

Secretly Canadian

Nov 11, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The folk song storyteller has become scarce. Songwriting that can carry an album on the back of clear vocal command and narrative, luring you into verses that combine chronicle and parable is a lost art form. You don’t realize how much so until you hear an album like Luke Temple’s new solo album, A Hand Through the Cellar Door. Without lavishness, the Here We Go Magic frontman elevates lyricism above the common collection of ironic euphemisms and bluntly vulnerable confessions. These songs gently but profoundly rock you to the core, pushing the prowess of Temple’s pen to the foreground.

On past solo works, Temple has emulated the vintage box radio balladry of Bill Kenny and the sly crooning of Curtis Mayfield. A Hand Through the Cellar Door is a revival of traditional folk oration with a stylistic character closer to Jackson C. Frank, James Taylor, and Paul Simon.

A Here We Go Magic pitched intro number greets you with an invitation to join briskly and once you’ve followed, he sits you down by the fire. The restraint of instrumentation cradles Temple’s airy prose, providing the painted backdrop all good fables need to draw you into the setting. Melody and tempo are introduced in sophisticated measures through impeccably placed acoustic picks, revolving accents of percussion and suspended string whispers reminiscent of Arcade Fire’s “Neighborhood #4” serving as the supporting cast to his tales.

Before you know it, you’re embedded in Temple’s illustrations and there’s no rush through them, even when he begins to skat lyrics that demonstrate an MC’s dexterity of tongue on “Maryanne Was Quiet,” a yarn of human trauma and reclamation that, along with “The Case of Louis Warren” delivers a poignant impact that sinks deep. In each case, even, cyclical acoustic strumming serves as the smooth paper surface beneath his words. The most beautiful folk ballad on Here We Go Magic’s last album, “Ordinary Feeling,” is also brought back to the table, this time with a slower pour over, releasing the sweet sad aroma of being honest with oneself.

With these eight songs, Temple distinguishes himself as an author with a handle for what made storytellers like Stevens, Simon, and Dylan masterful. Like Wes Anderson, who with a distinct personal touch weaves in gestures of Francois Truffaut and Orson Welles, he possesses a time honored craft, regaling, steering, and reflecting in a bevy of vocal shadings, all cool blue. Luke Temple is more than welcome to lead Here We Go Magic anytime, but on his own, his rare talent is clearly apparent. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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